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Biological Invasions and Ecosystem Processes: Towards an Integration of Population Biology and Ecosystem Studies

Peter M. Vitousek
Oikos
Vol. 57, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 7-13
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3565731
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3565731
Page Count: 7
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Biological Invasions and Ecosystem Processes: Towards an Integration of Population Biology and Ecosystem Studies
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Abstract

Biological invasions by exotic species clearly alter the composition and community structure of invaded areas. There is increasing evidence that they can also alter properties of whole ecosystems, including productivity, nutrient cycling, and hydrology. For example, the exotic actinorrhizal nitrogen-fixer Myrica faya alters primary successional ecosystems in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by quadrupling inputs of nitrogen, the nutrient limiting to plant growth. A few other examples of ecosystem-level changes have been documented. Biological invaders change ecosystems by differing from native species in resource acquisition and/or resource use efficiency, by altering the trophic structure of the area invaded, or by altering disturbance frequency and/or intensity. Where exotic species clearly affect ecosystem-level properties, they provide the raw material for integrating the methods and approaches of population and ecosystem ecology.

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